Islanders: Marc Staal trade reveals steep price for cap dumps

Johnny Boychuk #55 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Johnny Boychuk #55 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The price to trade away a big contract in a salary dump is going to be expensive for the New York Islanders this offseason.

On Saturday, the New York Rangers dealt defenseman Marc Staal to the Detroit Red Wings along with a 2021 second-round pick for future considerations. While that has nothing to do with the New York Islanders directly, it certainly impacts them indirectly.

“Future consideration” is NHL speak for nothing. Meaning, what the Red Wings are sending to the Rangers is purely cap relief. And that’s the impact for the Islanders. Dumping Staal’s deal that carried a $5.7 million cap hit (and fewer actual dollars) cost a second-round pick.

If the Islanders want to move some salary this offseason it’s not going to come cheap. With a flat cap, teams with space are weaponizing it.

More Than A Second

You know, just as well as I do, that the New York Islanders have essentially no room on the salary cap. With $8.905 million in space and those three RFA’s needing deals, the Isles are in a precarious position when it comes to the cap.

To make space, the Isles are going to have to move some money around. Guys with big contracts like Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV), Andrew Ladd ($5.5 million AAV), or Nick Leddy ($5.5 million AAV) seem like ideal trade candidates to clear out some space.

How much the Islanders are going to have to give in order to convince a team to take any of those deals in a flat cap era is debatable. But with the Staal trade we can see that it might be pricier than the Islanders had hoped.

Staal had one-year left on a deal that carried a $5.7 million cap hit. With $1 million in signing bonus money that was already paid, all that was left to pay on his deal was $3.2 million in base salary. Essentially it cost the Rangers a second-round pick for the Red Wings to chew up $3.2 million in real dollars.

The trouble for the Islanders is that they don’t have a comparable deal.

Let’s consider the three names I brought up earlier:

  • Johnny Boychuk | $6 million AAV, 2 years: His $2.75 million signing bonus was already paid for this year. But with another one owed next season and a $1.25 million salary for both years and Boychuk is owed $5.25 million total. It’s less than his $6 million cap hit over both seasons. But it’s a two-year investment for another team.
  • Andrew Ladd | $5.5 million AAV, 3 years: It’s just not going to happen. No one is taking Ladd’s contract unless the Isles take a bad contract back in return. Ladd is owed $12 million over the next three years ($9 million signing bonus and $3 million in salary).
  • Nick Leddy | $5.5 million AAV, 2 years: Leddy still has a lot to offer so he’s not strictly a cap dump. But he’s also not strictly making $5.5 million. Leddy is owed $13.5 million in salary over the next two seasons; $6.5 million in 20-21 and $7 million in 21-22.

Leo Komarov is only owed $3.5 million over the next two years (and carries a $3 million AAV). He could be moved to shed a decent chunk of cap space. But $3 million doesn’t have the same impact as $5.5 or $6 million from these other three deals.

The only expiring deal the Islanders have on the books are Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Adam Pelech, and Ilya Sorokin. Cizikas has the biggest cap hit with a $3.35 million AAV. Trading any of them for cap relief ranges from a fireable offense to unlikely.

If the Red Wings charged the Rangers a second-round pick for $3.2 million over one year what’s it going to cost to offload Boychuk’s $5.25 million over two years? Or $12 million. to take Andrew Ladd’s deal for the next three seasons. What about Leo and his $3.5 million over the next two years? Is it going to cost a third round pick just to offload him?

It’s going to be an expensive offseason for the New York Islanders to try and get under the cap ceiling.